Potential Trade Packages, Landing Spots for Russell Wilson in 2022

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2021

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs onto the field prior to an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

It always felt like it was going to be contend-or-bust for the Russell Wilson era in Seattle this season. 

Wilson's Seahawks are 3-8 and in the stacked NFC West's cellar. His highly anticipated return from injured reserve due to a finger injury has produced an 0-3 skid against playoff-contending NFC squads Green Bay, Arizona and Washington. 

Over the course of those three games, Wilson has averaged 205 passing yards with just two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Which isn't to suggest Seattle's free fall is all on the quarterback—roster-building issues around the future Hall of Famer have been persistent for years and seem to finally be catching up with the organization while he returns from the first missed games of his career. 

The overarching context for the Seahawks is unfortunate. This past offseason, Wilson told the Seahawks he wanted to stay in Seattle, but his agent did list four teams that he'd accept trades to. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, they were the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears.

Fast forward to now, the Seahawks even flirting with .500 and putting something on film they could build around might fend off trade speculation. But the relationship feels like it has run its course. Seattle can use (though very unlikely) an out built into Wilson's contract this offseason, but they'll undoubtedly look to trade him in order to get something immediate and valuable in return for his departure, provided he'll waive his no-trade clause. 

Wilson's preferred list of destinations, however, needs updating. Dallas isn't moving away from Dak Prescott and Chicago has first-rounder Justin Fields to develop. Wilson's play this year at the age of 33, isn't helping his cause with some would-be destinations and could lessen the potential return the Seahawks would get via trade compared to say, what the Detroit Lions got when shipping Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams

Luckily for Wilson, there are some offseason destinations that make sense. They boast strong pieces around the quarterback and are in a position to make a run if Wilson arrives and plays at a high level. 

Here's a look at a handful of those potential landing spots and what it might take to get a deal done.


Washington Football Team

Nick Wass/Associated Press

A year removed from backing into the playoffs with a losing record in a weak NFC East, the Washington Football Team continues to hang around the playoff picture with a 5-6 record courtesy of three straight wins. 

That streak also has Washington playing itself out of position for a top pick and a potential top-flight passer in the 2022 draft. After 39-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick made it into just one game this year, former undrafted free agent Taylor Heinicke has made 11 appearances, throwing 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, throwing multiple scores in a game just four times. 

It's fun to imagine a healthy Wilson in Washington teaming up with legit No. 1 wideout Terry McLaurin, versatile weapon Curtis Samuel and reliable chain-mover Adam Humphries in an offense directed by Scott Turner, who lulls defenses with power runs before deep shots. 

Wilson would be a dramatic upgrade, and much faster than any rookie in an NFC East where even Dallas only has seven wins after losing two in a row. Washington sending a pair of first-round picks (2022 and 2023), a mid-round pick (likely a third-rounder) and Heinicke as a piece to compete in Seattle, would likely get it done. 


Carolina Panthers 

Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers have been one of the most surprisingly aggressive teams in trying to fix the quarterback position. 

Carolina rolled with Teddy Bridgewater in 2020, didn't like the results and traded for 2018 first-round pick Sam Darnold in the hopes a change of scenery would give the team a long-term solution. 

But over nine appearances, Darnold has completed just 59.5 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 4-5 record before going on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Carolina then brought back free agent Cam Newton, who most recently got benched in the fourth quarter of a Week 12 loss to Miami after throwing for 92 yards and two interceptions. 

Interestingly, the five-win mark still matches the best non-Tampa Bay record in the NFC South (eight wins), so the Panthers aren't a hard sell as a possible contender in 2022 with dramatic improvement under center. He'd get to work with talented wideouts D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr., plus elite running back Christian McCaffrey (when healthy) in an offense directed by Joe Brady of 2019 LSU fame. 

Ahead of the trade deadline, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported Carolina asked to speak to Deshaun Watson, so Wilson being available would surely pique its interest. If the front office is serious, it would be easy to see them offering two first-round picks, a third-rounder and Darnold. 


Denver Broncos

Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

The Denver Broncos have not had a good time of finding a secure quarterback since Peyton Manning in 2015. They have run through the likes of Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Paxton Lynch and now the tandem of Bridgewater and 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock. 

Lock has completed 59 percent of his career passes, and over 11 appearances this year, Bridgewater has thrown 15 touchdowns and five interceptions but is 6-5 and has more performances with fewer than 200 passing yards (three, two due to missing time with an injury) than 300-yard games (two). 

With Bridgewater 29 years old and so-so over two different stops in as many years, it wouldn't be too stunning to see the Denver front office go with a bigger, safer splash in the form of Wison. 

The sell for Wilson isn't difficult either—Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton and a stacked backfield make for one of the best offensive casts in the NFL. And to its credit, the Denver defense only lets up 17.8 points per game, the third-best mark in the league. 

Denver would be a tough sell given the uber-competitive AFC West, where all four teams boast at least six wins. But Wilson would have to weigh that against the cast of weapons, especially if Denver woos Seattle with two first-round picks, a third-round pick and their choice of Bridgewater or Lock, depending on whether Seattle wants to attempt to win now or rebuild.


New Orleans Saints

Rich Schultz/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints seemed to easily find a Drew Brees successor with Jameis Winston, sprinting out to a 5-2 start. 

But Winston went down with a season-ending knee injury, and the Saints have dropped four in a row to hit 5-6 as Siemian has completed 57.2 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and three interceptions while averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt, which ranks outside the top 30. 

A team all-in around Brees' final season already, the Saints are an easy sell. They were rolling with Winston under center despite missing elite wideout Michael Thomas. Impressively, the Saints were already somewhat transitioning to a different identity that leaned on a stellar defense, which lets up 22.6 points per game. 

There is the matter of the Saints recently giving Taysom Hill a lucrative hybrid extension worth between $40 million and $95 million, according to Schefter, that changes based on what position he plays. But that's tradeable, and if Hill doesn't perform well to close the season (he's 31 years old and has 142 attempts to his name), the Saints will look for ways out of it. 

That in mind, a package boasting Hill, two first-rounders and a mid-round pick should provide a deal that lets Seattle straddle the line between hopeful contender and rebuilder while the Saints go all-in once more.